Cincinnati Ballet (CB) is broadening their already considerable appeal by delivering their Family Series programming. These magical productions are designed for children as a way to better understand and appreciate ballet as an art form while showcasing their talented Second Company (CB2), along with many of their rising stars among the children at the Otto M. Budig Academy. Based on the well-known book “Arabian Nights” and family-favorite Disney movie, CB sets an impressive stage and presents the familiar tale of Aladdin and his battle versus the evil sorcerer to secure a kingdom and his love of the princess…with a little help along the way from the genie (or two!). Taking absolutely no shortcuts for this appropriately shorter program, CB’s “Aladdin” creates a memorable experience for audiences of all ages from the moment you step into the lobby to the fantastical finale that takes place on stage, taking us all on a fanciful magic carpet ride through the clouds.
CB productions are always impressive, but it is heart-warming that they would take such time and care to create such robust and fabulous experiences for the next generation of ballet lovers. The Aronoff lobby has been bejeweled in gorgeous streams of colorful scarves and showcases of local artists’ work that help bring the characters to life. Pre-show activities allow everyone to immerse themselves in Aladdin’s world. Gazing upon the beautiful costumes and authentic sets, you’ll feel as if you have been transported to a whole new world, and you won’t dare close your eyes as you watch the story unfold using a perfect combination of ballet, music, and narration by the storyteller Scheherazade. The smart addition of narration to help us better understand what will take place on stage is a great way to keep the audience engaged and allow for seamless scene changes. Plus, there is the added bonus of the evil laugh of the nefarious sorcerer played out in surround sound and acted out on stage in dramatic fashion — it was one of our younger daughter’s favorite aspects of the show.
While the stars of the show are absolutely the dancers, you’ll be delighted by the clever costumes and authentic movements of the adorable animals from Aladdin’s exuberant monkey to the Princess’s fierce tiger cub, along with another of our favorites: the camel! The ballet itself is beautiful, true storytelling through dance as the affable Aladdin captures the heart of the exquisite Princess, along with her father, the Sultan, who delivers his role in hilarious fashion. In a lovely addition, Aladdin gifts two jewels to the Princess that come to life and provide some of the most captivating and accomplished performances, along with the smaller, green-hued genie who is my new favorite character. The endearing relationship between Aladdin and his monkey will steal your heart, but the tumultuous finale will steal your breath as they all work together to save the kingdom.
In a show not to be missed if you have kids who are even remotely open to art in any form, Cincinnati Ballet’s “Aladdin” is a tremendous feat of storytelling and dance production. My family has had the privilege to attend many of CB’s performances over the years, and the Family Series is now on our list permanently. We cannot wait for the 2019-20 Season that will bring “The Wizard of Oz!” In a stroke of genius, CB is also offering a “Backstage Experience” for $20/person that includes unique photo ops with the evil sorcerer and jewels, activity books and stickers, goodie bags and a quick but eye-popping backstage tour that will delight everyone in your group. Cheers to CB for continuing to make ballet and art magical for us all!
Know Before You Go: Remember to show up early to take advantage of all the fun lobby activities. Take a moment to grab a booster seat for your little one. In a nod to their primary audience, the shorter than usual performance is just over an hour and consists of two acts with a short, 5-10 minute break in-between — almost long enough for a race to the restroom if needed, but mostly a good time to stand up and stretch. Also, as this is based more on the book than the movie, some of the names will be different than what your little one expects (i.e. the monkey is Malik versus Abu and the princess is Kalila versus Jasmine). The program guide helps provide some useful background, and they will catch on quickly.
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls (8 and 11), best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on shopper innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of every kind, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning every day through books and connecting with others, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection (highly recommend DanceFix and Pilates Reformer), and delights in spending time with family and friends. Writing reviews for the arts is an absolute privilege and one she cherishes every day, with the hope that sharing her perspective will inspire others to embrace the arts.